Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cuba – Day 5

This was the day of the MEGA tour. Lillian, from our previous Tour, a few days ago, returned as our Guide, and we set off just before 9am. Unlike Tuesday’s Tour, the distances today were pretty vast, so we had the help of Luis and his air-conditioned taxi!

The first part of the Tour meant we travelled out of Havana for some two-hours, in the direction of Viñales. This was a Tour picked for its scenery rather than culture and it didn’t disappoint! The principle attraction is the limestone hills rising out of the deep red (and I do mean deep red) soil.

First stop, an hour in, was at a roadside cafe, where they served one of the best coffees we’ve had so far - whilst being watch by one the gazillion cows out here.

Another day, another dog, as we spotted Cuba’s answer to a catalytic convertor – a DOGalytic converter?

Then were off the the first significant point of the Tour – a man extracting sugar from sugar cane – helped along by a slice of pineapple and lime.

Next, the ‘authentic’ Indian settlement (although later, we did see them on their mobiles smoking a cigarette!)

Then it was off to the caves – Cuevo del Indio - full of ‘tites’ and ‘mites’..and surprisingly, a RIVER, with a boat trip – we weren’t expecting that!

Very dark, very atmospheric and very busy! If you look at the sign above (on the left of it) you might just be able to make out that that someone had handwritten ‘no break-dancing’.

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This was a truly exhilarating experience and it seemed really weird to have a boat-trip inside a cave – the river even has a name: Rio San Vivente.

Lunchtime already! - where we were treated to a traditional Cuban lunch of pork and beans with salad.. and the obligatory Band serenading the diners.

I didn’t know that! – we’re 7389.21 kilometres from home! After wrestling with the urinals (one out of action and the other, missing believed p*****!), it was back in the Taxi to our next destination – Cuba’s famous mural – Mural de la Prehistoria painted in 1961, on the limestone wall by Leovigildo González.

The mural depicts Man at all stages of evolution and the whole thing has to be weeded and repainted about every three years.

Next stop was the largest tobacco farm in Cuba and another demonstration on how a cigar is made.

Then it was off to a viewpoint where we got a tremendous view across the valley together with the stunning ‘flame tree’.

Penultimate stop was dropping into Las Terrazas (an eco-friendly resort) where we were met met with a free cocktail – and torrential rain. It was a short stop before heading off to our final destination: Maria’s Cafe, where the rain and thunder continued – and we tucked into some specialty coffees.
The rain eased and we boarded the taxi for the two-hour plus journey towards central Havana. Luis dropped off Lillian near to where she lived, so we said our final goodbyes and continued our journey back to base. By the time we arrived back at the Hotel just after 8pm, the sun was just beginning to set. We were shattered (especially me), and we retired to our room, not even with enough energy to have a meal.

Our last full day here tomorrow, so we’re planning a very lazy day!